Ben Wilkes

Ben Wilkes

Who do you care for, and what is the best part for you about being a carer?

Like many families today, permanent childcare arrangements are hard to obtain, therefore we chose a blended care arrangement, whereby my son attended childcare for the two days we were able to obtain and I assumed the role of primary carer for him on the other three days. I commenced my parental leave when my son was 5 months old.

What are some of the responsibilities of your role at the university? What does a typical day look like for you?

My role at the university is Manager, Allied Health, which is responsible for the delivery of clinical interventions and supports for students by practitioners at Student Wellbeing. Essentially, my day has multiple components: meeting with and supporting students directly to provide intervention (1:1), supporting students via supervising and training practitioners who meet with them independently, or by designing/advocating for changes in university policies, procedures and systems in order to create better student experiences.

What is the most challenging aspect of being a carer and also having a career?

Managing expectations and email. Choosing to be a part time carer means that you value family and have set times to care directly for them, it does not mean that you are not engaged or with your work role.

What are some of the strategies that you’ve used to overcome these and what have the impacts for you been both personally and professionally?

Email management is a key strategy. I managed my email account for approx. one hour a day when not on campus. This enabled me to keep integrated in my role and on top of (potential) crises. My role as a manager required this accessibility and ability to delegate in a timely fashion, but I can understand why others would require a strict clock on, clock off arrangement.

How has Macquarie University supported you?

Post and during my parental leave period I have been on a flexible work arrangement which has allowed me to have a combination of long and short days. This has a been beneficial for my family as it has meant that I have been able to participate in childcare drop off and pick up. Additionally, I think the longer work days allow me to accommodate a greater focus on projects and innovation of services for our teams.

What are your top tips for other employees who have caring responsibilities and also want to have fulfilling and rewarding careers?

From my experience, a flexible work arrangement is worth it. You allow the business to be open longer hours and allow yourself to be available to your family when they are needing you most.

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